19 Desember, 2008

Museum shows how Jakarta started

The Maritime Museum's exhibition "Jakarta: Built by sea trade and ports" showcases hundreds of years of trading activity at the port that started the city's history.

The organizer hoped the exhibition would draw the government's attention to the site's historical value.

"Jakarta started with the presence of Sunda Kelapa Port, where the traders stopped. Then the city got bigger until today," said Ida Subaedah, head of the administration office at the 9,700-square-meter museum, Thursday.

"The museum, the old spice warehouse, was an integral part of the port and its history should not be neglected."

For the event, there are displays in two rooms providing visitors with evidence of trading. Posters containing the letters of the Ottoman Empire rulers in Turkey show spice relations as early as 1567.

One of the letters tells how the empire took some native plant seeds from the Botanical Gardens in Batavia (the old name for Jakarta) to Turkey.

Replicas of ships from Greece, the Netherlands, Germany and Sweden are on show, along with replica Indonesian vessels.

The exhibition will also hold a replica-ship making competition Saturday, with around 200 secondary school students participating. The Swedish Embassy have provided a video presentation about merchant ship Gothenburg.

Although it will draw a crowd, Ida said it was more important to reach out to the government and trade companies.

"We hope this event will impact decision makers to pay more attention to revitalization of the area," she said.

She said the museum had proposed a major redevelopment plan, with the help of a private company. The plan is under the scrutiny of the City Planning office.

"There are a lot of things we can do if there is cross-office cooperation, including cultural tourism, shopping tourism and food tourism. We can have a joint tour with the Luar Batang mosque or Sunda Kelapa Port," she said.

The Jakarta administration will sign a memorandum of understanding with the transportation department early next year to allow the start of cooperation with the port.

Ida said the museum also hoped the event would increase interest among shipping companies and members of the public who had maritime collections to donate or lend their collections to the museum.

"We have a limited budget to acquire new items so we hope the public can share their collection with us," she said.

Volunteers are also welcome to help out the 10 members of the museum, as interpreters or tour guides. As a start, the museum plans to train the boy scouts to be tour guides.

The exhibition ends Dec. 24. Entrance cost to the museum, located on Jl. Pasar Ikan, is Rp 2,000 (17 US cents) for adults, Rp 1,500 for students and Rp 600 for children.(jktpst)

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